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12 Dec 2006 : Column 1005W—continued

Mr. Hoon: On 27 November fighting broke out in Malakal, capital of the Upper Nile province of South Sudan, between the Sudan People’ Liberation Army (SPLA) and a militia aligned with the Sudanese armed forces (SAP). The fighting spread to include regular SAP elements. Early indications are of up to 150 killed and perhaps 400 wounded. It is not clear yet what proportion of these were civilian. The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) brought senior
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commanders from the two sides together and organised joint patrols through the town; as a result calm was restored by 1 December.

We utterly condemn the fighting and pay tribute to General Lidder and the staff of UNMIS, without whose prompt action many more might have been killed. We received regular reports from UNMIS as the situation developed.

This incident has been the most serious ceasefire violation since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005. It is of the utmost importance that both sides work together to ensure that there are no repetitions of the violence. This will be a major pre-occupation of the Ceasefire Joint Military Commission, which is investigating the incident, and the Ceasefire Political Commission, to which it will report. We have called a meeting of the Security Working Group of the CPA’s Assessment and Evaluation Commission, which we chair, to consider how to ensure that violence does not recur. All three of these bodies include representatives of the Government of Sudan, or its armed forces, and the SPLA/Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the African Union on the maintenance of troops in Darfur in 2007. [105045]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development attended a high-level consultation on Darfur in Addis Ababa on 16 November 2006, jointly chaired by the Secretary-General of the UN and the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission. This meeting agreed the need for a phased increase in UN support to the peacekeeping force in Darfur that would culminate in a joint AU-UN force.

Uganda

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the prospect of success for the peace talks between the Ugandan Government and the Lords Resistance Army. [105338]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Trade gave to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 485W.

UN Committee Against Torture

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has received on the work of the UN Committee Against Torture. [105330]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and our overseas Missions pay close attention to the conclusions and recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture. We look for opportunities to support its work and encourage others to do the same. We are not aware of any representations made to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on the work
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of the Committee, but the FCO regularly receives representations on wider issues related to torture.

International action against torture has been a priority for the Government since the launch of the UK Anti-Torture Initiative in 1998. We continue to work hard with our international partners to eradicate this abhorrent practice. This includes efforts to strengthen UN and other international mechanisms, diplomatic activity such as lobbying, and funding concrete project work.

UN Human Rights Council

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the (a) effectiveness and (b) independence of the UN Human Rights Council. [105050]

Mr. Hoon: The Government are engaging with international partners around the world to build a strong and effective UN Human Rights Council. Positive steps include adoption by consensus of the draft UN Convention on the right not to be subject to Enforced Disappearance, and constructive debate with more than 40 UN Human Rights Rapporteurs. The Council is also building up its new tools; for example the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which will submit all states' human rights records to scrutiny. However, we and others have been disappointed by the Council’s handling of certain issues, such as its disproportionate and unbalanced focus on some Middle East issues, including through three Special Sessions in four months. The Council will meet in Special Session again on 12 December to discuss the situation in Darfur: this will be a key opportunity to demonstrate its readiness to tackle grave human rights situations wherever they occur.

As an intergovernmental body comprised of 47 UN member states, the Council is responsible for its own decisions. The Council reports, where necessary, to its parent body, the UN General Assembly.

USA: Casinos

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will place in the Library copies of the agenda and minutes of the meetings between officials from her Department who have met casino operators in the United States in the last two years; and who attended each meeting. [104806]

Mr. McCartney: No. The minutes of the meetings contain commercially confidential information, which cannot be released.

Since December 2004, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in Los Angeles, including the consul-general, met representatives of two casino operators on three occasions. These meetings are detailed in the reply I gave to the hon. Member today (UIN 102084).

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in her Department have held with casino operators interested in securing licences under the Gambling Act 2005 in the last five years. [104807]


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Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Trade gave to him on 29 November 2006, Official Report, column 738W.

Venezuela

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made on the freedom of the press in Venezuela; and whether she has received reports of electoral irregularities during the recent General Election. [108024]

Mr. Hoon: We have made no recent representations about the freedom of the press in Venezuela. However, we continue to monitor freedom of expression in several countries in the Latin American region, including Venezuela.

We supported the EU election observation mission that was in Venezuela for the recent presidential elections at the invitation of the Venezuelan government. The mission has just issued its preliminary report. The report identified no particular irregularities with the result, but did note serious problems with the campaign leading up to the elections themselves.

West Papua

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her policy is on independence from Indonesia for West Papua; and if she will make a statement. [108289]

Mr. McCartney: The UK respects the territorial integrity of Indonesia and does not support independence for Papua. We support the Government of Indonesia’s stated intention to resolve tensions in Papua through dialogue, in a peaceful, just and dignified manner. We believe that meaningful dialogue with the Government of Indonesia cannot take place on the basis of calls for Papuan independence.

We also encourage the Indonesian Government to proceed with full implementation of the 2001 Special Autonomy Law for Papua, which will lay the groundwork for a sustainable resolution to the issue, and for the long-term stability of the province.

Zimbabwe

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the statement of the Government of Zimbabwe that they have ceased printing money. [108057]

Mr. McCartney: We note with interest the statements of Zimbabwean officials on fiscal issues, including the recent budget announced by the Minister of Finance. We look forward to the policy statement by the Governor of the Reserve Bank, due in January.

We also look forward to the outcome of the ongoing Article 4 visit of the International Monetary Fund, which we believe will supply a credible assessment of the activities and intentions of the Government of Zimbabwe.


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Education and Skills

Advertising

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department spent on purchasing space in The Guardian newspaper in each of the last five years. [105627]

Mr. Dhanda: Newspaper advertising for the Department is done via the Central Office of Information (COI) and the information provided covers all newspaper advertising. The COI does not hold information specifically on advertising space in The Guardian newspaper.

The total spent by the Department on national newspaper advertising, across a number of different campaigns, using different newspapers is:

Financial year Cost (£ million)

2002-03

1.89

2003-04

2.89

2004-05

2.27

2005-06

1.50

2006-07 to date

1.50


Better Regulation Task Force

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made with the implementation of the Better Regulation Task Force proposals on child employment. [106638]

Mr. Dhanda: Guidance has been given to local authorities that Directors of Children's Services should have functions relating to child employment as part of their remit, as recommended by the Task Force. The Government have not yet been persuaded that the Task Force's other recommendations would make a significant contribution towards the Every Child Matters agenda. I have written to the chair of the Better Regulation Commission to that effect.

Competition Managers

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many people are employed as competition managers; what the (a) grade and (b) salary range is of each such post; what the (i) minimum, (ii) median and (iii) maximum salary is in each salary range; and how many competition managers he expects to recruit over the next 12 months; [106008]

(2) how much is allocated to the employment of competition managers in the 2006-07 financial year; and what the expected budget is for each of the next three tax years. [106009]

Mr. Dhanda: As part of the joint DfES/DCMS national School Sport Strategy, £1,419,000 in 2006-07 and £3,500,000 in 2007-08 has been allocated to fund a network of competition managers. The amount of funding beyond that is dependent on the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The first wave of 20 competition managers was recruited in 2005. We are currently recruiting 42
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additional competition managers. By the end of November, 25 of these competition managers were in post. There will be at least 90 competition managers in place by the end of 2007.

The recommended salary ranges for senior competition managers and competition managers are £32,000 to £36,000 and £25,000 to £28,000 respectively. The precise amount paid will vary according to the local employment market.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what change there has been in funding for (a) gender, (b) disability and (c) ethnic minority personnel issues in his Department, since 1997. [107199]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department has only been in existence since 2001. We have in place a reasonable adjustment fund to help us to meet our obligations under the DDA. In 2004-05 we spent £162,785.38; in 2005-06 £235,172.80; and so far in 2006-07 £120,215.68. In addition the human resource equality and diversity team spent £34,622.78 in 2004-05; £59,333.66 in 2005-06; and £57,335.68 so far in 2006-07. The Department changed its accounting system and to provide information prior to 2004 would result in disproportionate costs.

Energy Use

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of the electricity used by his Department was generated from (a) renewable sources and (b) on-site micro-generation facilities during the last period for which figures are available. [106063]

Mr. Dhanda: The information is as follows:

Foundation Degree Courses

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people enrolled on a foundation degree course in each year since its inception; and what the drop-out rate was in each year since its inception. [105518]

Bill Rammell: The latest available information is shown in the table.


12 Dec 2006 : Column 1011W
Total number of students enrolled on foundation degrees in higher education institutions and further education colleges in England
Number of students

2001-02

4,255

2002-03

12,415

2003-04

24,485

2004-05

38,210

2005-06

47,215

Note:
Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.
Source:
Higher Education Students Early Statistics Survey (HESES)

Data relating specifically to the non-completion rates for foundation degrees are not held centrally.

Further Education Colleges

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms are in place to allocate funding to higher education provision in further education colleges, with particular reference to established set variables in the funding stream; and if he will make a statement. [105519]

Bill Rammell: Under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has a general responsibility for funding “prescribed courses of higher education” in further education colleges (FECs). HEFCE provides recurrent teaching funding for this activity at FECs using the same methodology as it uses for funding taught higher education courses at higher education institutions. Responsibility for funding other, non-prescribed courses of HE in FECs generally rests with the Learning and Skills Council.

From HEFCE, directly funded FECs are eligible for:


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